Union group faces shortfall on funding

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 May, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong's leading trade union group could be forced to scale down its push for workers' rights and democracy if an emergency appeal for donations fails.

In an e-mail to workers, legislator Lee Cheuk-yan, head of the Confederation of Trade Unions, said the group's funding had reached a critical point and its campaign for workers' rights would be cut if it failed to raise money.

'We have been fighting for workers' rights and democracy for two decades and it will be very sad if we are forced to leave many of them in the cold when they face exploitation,' Mr Lee said.

Pay had already been frozen for its 30-plus staff this year and lay-offs were inevitable if the situation worsened, Mr Lee said.

With annual operating expenses of about HK$8 million, the group plays a key role in the push for universal suffrage.

The union group has also been in the forefront of representing workers in many labour disputes over the past few years.

But because of a reduction in revenue the union usually receives from workers' training courses, due to stiff competition from those offered by the private sector, the group is about HK$1 million short on its annual budget.

Confederation leaders have already decided to raise the subscription fees for the 80-plus member unions in the coming year, which they hope will raise its income by HK$100,000.

Mr Lee said the initial response from workers to the group's appeal to donate by monthly direct debit was 'encouraging', but because of its political stance, the confederation found it difficult to lobby support from the business sector.